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  • Writer's pictureJanis Raisen

Back to Basics: The Old Typewriter Experience on Your Computer

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Ernest Hemingway, a legendary author and journalist didn't have fancy, efficient writing tools at his disposal during his era. He didn't have a computer when he wrote his famous books, such as, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, or when he worked as a newspaper reporter. He turned to his typewriter, the modern writing technology of his time.

Ernest Hemingway ( Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The digital age has transformed our lives so much so that we rarely look back at primitive ways of writing —with the exception of writers.

Many writers who were exposed to the typewriter culture grew accustomed to the sounds of typewriter clicks, bell dings (which signified the end of a row), and the sound of the carriage as you manually moved it from one side of the page to the other. It was the conductor in the execution of the writing piece. Typing with computer keys is far less satisfying. Only the sounds of the typewriter clicks echo the feeling of composing, creating a masterpiece, as you form each word and sentence with purpose.


Today the typewriter is still a universal symbol that is associated with the writing profession. Although generations of high school and university students wrote term papers on a typewriter, the tool for them was a means to an end. To a writer, the typewriter symbolizes so much more.

Gone are the days of the blank writing canvas and a distraction-free space

Using a typewriter meant starting off with a clean, blank canvas, much the same as an artist does before beginning to sketch or paint.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Today, writers have lost that blank canvas. Somehow, looking at an empty Word document or a new post page in a website program doesn't inspire creativity. Instead of writing on a blank page, the computer has changed how writers create.

Screen capture of Writer home page

If you are trapped in typewriter nostalgia but don't want to purchase one and go that far back in time (which is possible to do), there is actually a computer program called Writer, the Internet typewriter, which mimics a typewriter. It provides an interface without distractions and essentially brings back the typewriter experience. The company has over 886,000 users (add this writer to the list), so it has certainly filled a void in the writing world.

Screen capture of Writer interface (you can adjust text and background colors to whatever you want)

The program stores an unlimited number documents, allows you to work both online or offline, and you can set writing goals (number of words or length of time you wish to write). The, small and basic icons along the bottom of the page (as seen in the above screen capture), don't command your attention or tempt you to distraction. All the important icons just merely sit quietly at the very bottom of the screen.

Screen capture of font, colors and typing sounds

The settings icon, for example, allows you to choose the font size, type and color, background color and your preferred typewriter sounds. You won't find styles and heads built into this program, since it's more simplified than Pages or Word—but that's the point. The typography options are more than adequate, but are not meant for people addicted to Comic Sans. If you require headings and styles you can add them later if you choose to edit your masterpiece in another program. The good news is that the colors you use while writing in this program will revert back to the standard black type on white background when you copy and paste, or export the file, so have fun with the colors!

Upgrading to the PRO package

Screen capture of pricing upgrades

If you upgrade to the PRO package you have more options for exporting files, premium support, access to the built-in thesaurus, and the statistics tab feature. Tracking your productivity with the statistics feature is a useful option. It will reveal the number of words you type each day and at what times of the day you are most productive and write the most. This will help you schedule your writing around the times that you naturally gravitate towards the keyboard.

Write like Hemingway

Screen capture of Hemingway mode

Even with a distraction-free interface, there is one important feature of the original typewriter which unintentionally assisted the writing process. Without the option to back space gracefully too many times, it forced writers to keep going without looking back once they began each writing session. The program has incorporated a cool feature in the upgraded version called "Hemingway Mode" which locks the backspace key. Depending on what you choose, you can activate the feature to stay on until you reach a certain number of words, characters or a desired amount of time.

There are definite pluses to upgrading and not missing out on the complete user experience, but either way, the program combines the best of technology and nostalgia to offer the perfect typewriter experience in the 21st century.

Even Hemingway would have been impressed.

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